A Tale of Two Fridays

One year ago, I made cookies to take to a Christmas party.  I even wrapped up a white elephant gift for the same party.  And then I sat down on my couch and decided to stay home.  I also ate at least half of the cookies.

Today, I decided that if I was going to make it to the party this year, I would need to buy cookies instead of making them.

Enter my all-time favorite Christmas cookies:


They might look like weird chocolate hearts with sprinkles (which is kind of an American-ized version of the cookie, but whatever).  They aren’t.  They are actually like a gingerbread/spice cake center with a chocolate coating.  Genius combo.  They also usually have this strange paper-like layer on the bottom (entirely edible) that’s surprisingly awesome.  These are paperless, sprinkleful, but I still like them.

so many hearts

They’re officially called Lebkuchen, and they’re officially gingerbread, I suppose.  I really think they’re in a different category from gingerbread though.

Okay, so cookies.

You know what else is nice about today? Well, we have nice neighbors.  We’ve only met this couple two or three times.

Sometime last weekend was one of those meetings, and I mentioned in our Christmas-is-coming conversation that we used to be light in the ornaments department.  That isn’t so much true these days, but just the same, I found a box of very nice hand-me-down Christmas decorations on our porch the next day, complete with a note from our neighbors.  How nice is that?!


Our neighbors made me feel cared for.  That’s a pretty big deal to make a relative stranger feel cared for.

And last but not least, I’ll show you my shame.  We ran out of dog food this morning, so Peanut had a bowl full of treats for breakfast.


I think that’s the equivalent of feeding kids cake for breakfast.  At least he didn’t seem to mind!

So yes, today had some highs and lows (and featured hours and hours of me rushing around work trying not to look rushed).  All things told, I think it was a success.  I did make it to the party, after all.

Warm, Fall Inspiration

Fall is my favorite season.  It has so much going for it–between the crisp weather and the ability to wear comfy sweaters and boots to work, it’s hard to go wrong.  It’s like an invitation to wrap yourself in a warm blanket and just enjoy life for a few months.

But for the past few days, the allergy side of the season has been hitting me and turning me into a tired, groggy mess.  Sometimes life calls for a warm cup of tea and some quiet rejoicing over the season.  Thankfully, I have a husband who encourages me to sit on the porch with a cup of tea.  He’s cool like that.

And there’s a cup of tea for the creative side of things, too:

watercolor from leschosettes.canalblog.com

watercolor from leschosettes.canalblog.com

On the Road Again

It’s been a while since I ran anywhere for a reason other than fire or emergency (like the man who was puking his guts up in the library… ran to get him a trash can).  I don’t actually remember the last time I just got up and went for a run, which kind of makes sense.  My running career has always been spotty.  I’ve run in a few half marathons, and then I completely stopped running for a couple of years after each.  At least I’m consistently inconsistent.

Anyway, this week marks the beginning of another running phase (I hope).  I’m two days in with a hike on a third day, so I think it counts.  What’s more, I actually woke up early to run before work this morning.  That, my friends is monumental.

This is what I felt like, running along our dirt road, super grateful that the first half of the trek is mostly downhill:

photo from the Huffington Post

photo from the Huffington Post

But inevitably, the run ends with me feeling much more like this:

photo from lifebeginsatthirtytwo.blogspot.com

photo from lifebeginsatthirtytwo.blogspot.com

Glamorous, right?  Even though I have ended both runs and the hike feeling like an out-of-shape doughnut-eating fool, I know that if I keep going out there, someday I’ll be able to run the whole way to the mailbox (0.7 miles, not just to the end of the driveway) and back the slightly uphill route without stopping or walking or wanting to die.  I might even be able to run 13.1 miles again without wanting to amputate my legs from the knee down.

So yes, what I’m looking forward to is not wanting to die while working out.  I could avoid that by not working out.  That’s my approach for about 2-3 years of out every 4.  I’m just hoping that my working out year is about to kick in.  They’re fun while they last.

Cloudy With a Chance of Hiking

This weekend was strange.  That’s the only way I can explain it.  There were these moments of pure relaxation and summer, and there was some serious family sadness.  It’s hard to reconcile those two extremes in the space of just a few days.  Then to really confuse the matter, there were these miscellaneous everyday things added to the mix.  There was a great $13 haircut and productive projects.  I did laundry, Scott fixed our drippy shower.  See what I mean?  Everything felt pretty surreal when added together.

My favorite thing about the weekend is that despite the strangeness and the sadness, the beauty was striking.  We hiked by this:

photo from mathprofhikingblog.blogspot.com

photo from mathprofhikingblog.blogspot.com

The weather was perfect.  We’re talking early spring day with fog and cool breezes and little moments of sunshine (in the middle of June!).  We needed a nap, so we took a nap in the car before the hike.  Dream come true, right?  We woke up in the warm car and hiked 3.3 miles.  Then we got some homemade peach ice cream at our favorite country store and picked up some fresh peaches and pepper jelly while we were at it.  It was summer at its best.

Today I’m grateful that beauty and peace don’t disappear when things get tough.  They can be hard to find, but they’re still there.

Changing Plans

There has been some above-average stress around our house for the past few months.  It’s job-related for Scott and yucky for both of us, and it means that we may or may not be moving in the next several months.  That wasn’t part of our plan when we moved here almost exactly a year ago, but we’re flexible, and we like lots of places.  It’ll be fine in the end.

The funny (or not funny) part of the story is that we still have troughs in our floors where the walls used to be.  Is the open-concept living area nice?  Yes!  Do we need to do something about the floors before we even think about potentially selling our house?  Probably.  I’ve heard that most people don’t have feeding troughs for their dogs between their living room and kitchen.

So the great floor project has been bumped up from a “sometime in the future” project to a “sometime this month” project.  That’s kind of nice, really.  We’re looking at all kinds of samples of wood flooring and bamboo and such.  Carefully weighing reviews and prices, etc.

If I were doing this without Scott (a.k.a. without someone who is willing to try out new and challenging house projects), I think I would honestly just find a non-matching patch for the troughs, whip out some trusty paint, and do this:

photo from coastalliving.com

photo from coastalliving.com

Fortunately, I have Scott, and he likes new and challenging projects.  He’ll help me pick something that lots and lots of people will like, not just green-paint-loving people like me.  Yay for balance!

Clean Wombats

I read an article earlier this week that was discussing how to keep a clean house despite the general mess and mayhem of life.  The author of said article says that her friends with the cleanest houses tend to not be aware of the latest internet memes, because spending time on the internet tends to cut into your cleaning/other stuff time.

To that, I respond with this:

from imgur.com

from imgur.com

Yes, that’s a happy wombat.  And this is self-affirmation dog:

photo from 9gag.com

photo from 9gag.com

And if you don’t know what those are (or what a meme is), your house is probably cleaner than mine is.

Frank Friday

Sometimes I post a bunch of things about delicious food and pretty flowers and tasty cocktails, and I think, “This is not my life.”  Sure, I ate those foods and have beautiful flowers in the yard/house, but is it really a representative sample?  So to honor the “representative sample” concept, it’s Frank Friday.

For starters, we have an incontinent coffeemaker.

coffee oopsI clean it up in the evening, and it greets me almost every day with a sad little coffee puddle.  Poor coffeemaker.  It has good days and bad days, but mostly bad days.

Second, I’m not great at cleaning floors.  This week, for example, Scott started fixing the trim around our newly opened up great room.  (The crowd rejoices!!!)

rubbleInstead of getting the broom or vacuum out, I went for some protective footwear.  (In this case, protective footwear is called a flip flop, because how much protection do you really need from a few drywall particles?)  I know I should care about the state of the floors, but I really don’t.  I just feel guilty about not caring.  Not quite the same as caring.

Last but not least, it’s almost time for a warm holiday weekend, and I did promise franks.

photo by Paul Sirisalee

photo by Paul Sirisalee

While I have not tried this version of the classic summer hot dog, I can pretty much guarantee I would love it.  It’s from Real Simple, and you basically just throw some marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil on top of a plain old hot dog.  I might even switch out the marinara  for a few tomato slices (or put them both on the dog… oooh, aaah) and call it perfection.